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The Sun sets in Los Angeles!

Stan Lee, the man who started the Marvel revolution passed away at the age of 95. This news just came suddenly when I was in my office going for lunch & suddenly my friend announced this sad news. I was shocked wondering is this a joke but then I checked on the internet & unfortunately the news was true.

His biggest contribution to Marvel was the entire Marvel universe itself. In collaboration with Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko, he created cavaclade of Marvel heroes- Hulk, Thor, Dr. strange, Iron man, Black Panther, Avengers, X-Men but his grandest creation is your friendly neighborhood, Spider-Man! Just like you can’t imagine physics without Newton, you can’t imagine Marvel without Stan Lee.

His way of doing things was to brainstorm the story with each & every artist like how everyone want a story to be told & then write a synopsis. As a writer Lee was known for his gift with words.

“And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness aware at last in this world, with great power there must also come – great responsibility.”

This process became known as the Marvel method & it allowed him to be the X-factor behind the scenes. The result was an immersive narrative sprawl that elevated into something better. It also piqued interests of readers from one comic to another making them hungry for more.

He added a new layer of complexity & humanity to superheroes. His characters were fantabulous but flawed. They had love & money worries, endured tragedy & feelings of insecurity. He gave us a world where we could escape into. A world filled with heroes who inspired us, who always made us believe in good. Before the dawn of superheroes, America did not have any mythology or epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata & Amar Chitra Katha. We can say that he contributed in creating a new mythology for the U.S. He is the embodiment of imagination, the trendsetter in entertainment.

Since Spider-Man (2002), Lee has been better known for his cameos in Marvel films. He said,

It doesn’t require a lot of rehearsal; you get there, you do it, you get the hell out of there in few minutes & you are on the screen forever.”

The MCU has become a $20 bn machine delivering blockbusters consistently with no signs of slowing down. What Marvel has done became the envy of Hollywood.

He is the real superhero, the man behind the myths……May his soul rest in peace.

Defying the impossible!

There cannot be peace without at first, a great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater the peace. The end you always feared is coming. It is coming & the blood will be on your hands.

This is it……the fallout of your good intentions.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

22 years ago, Tom Cruise created the Mission Impossible franchise based on a TV series in which different filmmakers could leave their mark on action cinema. Ethan Hunt is Tom Cruise’s answer to James Bond. With the first film, Brian De Palma crafted an espionage tale stuffed with climax aboard a French bullet train that stands one of the most thrilling pieces in history. With the second film, John Woo transplanted the action from Hong Kong To U.S. J.J. Abrams reinvented the franchise with the third film applying a more serialized storytelling that works as a T.V. pilot. MI 3 was Abrams’ debut movie as a director but his clean direction works that allowed Tom Cruise to reboot the franchise with more recurring characters in the future. 

Abrams hired Brad Bird to direct Ghost Protocol with former serving as executive producer. Bird propels in globe-hopping narrative creating sensational set pieces in  Kremlin,  Burj Khalifa & the climatic confrontation in Mumbai. Bird, Abrams & Cruise delivered a smashing successful blockbuster that took the series to new global heights.

Enter Christopher McQuarrie who keeps the franchise firing on all cylinders with Rogue Nation. Many view it as a benchmark for the series. McQuarrie who only directed one film (Jack Reacher) before it had a big muscular work to do. But he & his team raised the stakes higher than any previous MI films to deliver the finest product.

Just when you think the franchise cannot get any better than previous MI films, here comes Fallout! Once again McQuarrie returning in the director’s chair serving as a direct sequel to Rogue Nation.  The film is superbly crafted with front loaded action that include fist fights in bathroom, motorcycle chases, HALO jumps, running over rooftops in London & the helicopter battle that wanders within the realm & suspension of disbelief. How Cruise gets out of every situation is exciting & amusing.

Tom Cruise never ages & you don’t want him to. His tireless drive to stay on top, his relentless quest to entertain & thrill, he pours his all into it to deliver the best action movie in recent years. There’s no CGI. Cruise does all the death defying stunts by himself. You are waiting for the scene where he breaks his ankle. In short he is ready to die for us. But what attracts us the most is his emotional side. He is morally upright & humane. This is blatantly shown when he helps an injured policewoman. 

The returning cast include Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson. Also Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett are the new additions. Cavill who never really shone with Superman becomes a force to be reckoned with as August Walker. He bulldozes through every scene without any hesitation. This is Cavill’s moment when he goes one on one with Cruise bringing the much machismo & charisma needed. This is his redemption as an actor. His arm reloading scene has become a new meme. His moustache was worth the moustache gate incident in Justice League. Also Rebecca Ferguson injects the right amount of physicality in her character Ilsa Fraust which makes her Hunt’s worthy adversary & also his love interest. 

Fallout is the most viscerally satisfying blockbuster. We couldn’t bear to watch any of these characters die while trying to complete the misson. Telling an intense personal story, combined with Cruise commitment to stunts work, McQuarrie creates a true spectacle. McQuarrie might be Cruise’s finest collaborator as both seek to craft out excellence by surpassing their limits. I have only two words for Cruise & his team:

             Mission accomplished!

The Park turns 25!

Do you really remember the first time you see a dinosaur? You don’t really believe it, do you? Its like a miracle!

Dr. Grant look in awe at a grazing Brachiosaurus in this memorable scene, encountering the dinos for the first time. This scene is the most perfect introduction to the park & the entire film series. “Welcome to Jurassic Park” , Dr. Hammond says as John William’s score hits its stride.

In  June 1993, Steven Spielberg changed the cinematic landscape with Jurassic Park; a monster mash sci-fi piece that shook the foundations of filmmaking. And on its 25th anniversary let’s take a moment to celebrate its legacy of greatness.

Spielberg pushed technology into a new frontier by conjuring up unbelievable cine-sights that moviegoers had never seen before. He married digital wizardry to a host od superb practical effects. He & his creative team dedicated millions of dollars in creating those animatronics. That’s what makes Jurassic Park work & that T-Rex breakout sequence still remains terrifying even today! The cast is excellent but the dinosaurs are the real stars of the franchise.  Just like Indiana Jones made archaeology cool, Jurassic Park made paleontology cool.

But what astonishes me is the fact that there are only 14 minutes of pre-historic creatures on screen. In a movie with 2 hours runtime, it looks sparse but that makes everything so impactful. Its a brilliant example of limitations ultimately serving the story being told. The film won 3 Oscars: Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing & Best Visual Effects. It became first film to reach the $1 billion mark (adjusted for inflation).

22 years later Colin Trevorrow rebooted the franshise with Jurassic World; a monster mayhem with more bigger & lethal dinosaurs. It was a win of technology & nostalgia. Spielberg’s dinos cut, stomped & slashed the box office, breaking the record of The Avengers by earning $1.6 billion worldwide.

Till today, Jurassic Park remains one of my all time favourite movie & everytime it airs on T.V., I watch it.

Thank you Mr. Spielberg, for making Jurassic Park a triumph in pop-culture entertainment!

Infinity War isn’t just a movie, its a lifetime event!

It all started back in 2008 with Iron-Man. And yet after 10 years & 18 movies all that build-up has led us to this moment- an epic cataclysmic event that will redefine what saving the universe really means. But its a gargantuan task of managing more thab 20 heroes in one film. Will the Russo brothers be able to deliver a movie that is worthy of this hype?

Its hard to juggle an ensembled cast but the Russo brothers did an exceptional job. The action rages seamlessly from planets to planets for 2.5 hours. But there is also time for MCU signature trademark-humour. Spidey’s pop culture references, a machismo banter between Thor & Star Lord, Strange vs Stark, GOTG especially Rocket Raccoon added relief.  There were some weird team ups led by the alpha males (yeah, that’s what I call them). Every hero got a fair amount of screentime. Many don’t know each other or the parametes of their shared universe. But Infinity War did not belong to these heroes, it was all about Thanos.

To challenge them is to court death..

After being teased in the first Avengers movie, Thanos, the mad titan has finally arrived. A showdown was inevitable. Josh Brolin plays the CGI character but there is also a human side to it. Thanos is the embodiment of madness & the quench for immense power, constantly blurring the lines between a prophet & a survivor. With the population of the universe is expanding & the resources finite, he has to destroy half of the universe in order to bring balance. While others see him as a madman, he sees himself as a God who is willing to do what no one else can.

Infinity War is about that staggering loss, the pain & suffering it inflicts without a proper goodbye. You won’t be the same after leaving multiplex basking in the loss of your favourite characters. The strength of Infinity War does not lie in this movie but all the 18 films that came before it- the relationship that we have developed with the characters & the relationship they have developed among themselves. Its a lifetime event. Marvel Studios took a decade to meticulously plan this mammoth showdown. Before 2008, if you would have asked me who Iron-Man was, I would have said that he is just a superhero from Marvel comics. But now these superheroes have become a pop-culture phenomena. Iron-Man, Thor, Captain America etc. have become household names.

Infinity War will leave you haunted in your senses & desperately in need of a sequel- proving why Marvel Studios are the real masters of this superhero genre!

The progenitor of shounen anime!

It started as a Journey to the West about a kid trying to find Dragon Balls. Who else at that moment would have thought that this kid would grow up to become one of the most beloved anime characters of all time. Admit it or not many people got into anime after watching Dragon Ball Z. Written by Akira Toriyama, the manga was way ahead of its time. DBZ is considered to be one of the most influential anime. It re-invented the shounen genre like no other.  Other mangakas Mashashi Kishimoto, Eiichiro Oda, Tite Kubo took inspiration from Toriyama to write Naruto, One Piece & Bleach respectively. If wasn’t for DBZ, these animes wouldn’t have existed in the first place.
I started watching DBZ during my school days. Little at that time I knew about its popularity. I finished watching DBZ & DBGT five years back. After that I always yearned for more of Son Goku’s adventures. Finally God answered my prayers & Dragon Ball Super started airing in 2015.

Taking place after the epic battle with Majjin Buu, God of Destruction Beerus comes to earth in order to fight a worthy opponent as per the prophecy. The first two sagas were a rehashed storytelling of the movies Battle of Gods & Resurrection F. The start was bit shaky. The iconic blonde Super Saiyan is replaced by Super Saiyan Blue. At that moment, it seemed Super will never be able to live upto its predecessor. 

From the third saga, a new story was started. The concept of multi-verse came into picture. Universe 6 saga introduced some pretty new & interesting characters. But the series reached its peak with Zamasu/ Goku black saga. Who is Zamasu? Is he a God who has succumbed to evil? How Zamasu & Goku Black went on a God-killing spree? All these questions are slowly answered. It was an classic example of fallen angel storyline. One of our favourite character made his return. Goku battling an evil version of himself was like a dream come true. Zamasu turned out to be one of the best villians of Dragon Ball thanks to his motivations believing what he’s doing is the right thing & that mortals are inherently evil & corrupt & must be exterminated for the sake of the universe.

The Tournament of Power was the final arc. 8 universes collided in an all out battle. The losing universe will be erased from existence. This saga offered great opportunities to invigorate interest in characters other than Goku. They have done a bloody good job in creating the one punch man like character, Jiren. Goku vs Jiren is considered to be one the best battles in DB history. The hype was so high that it sent several streaming sites crashing. The animation style is leaps & bounds out of this world. The fight scenes burst with colours & movements. Ultra instinct will rejuvenate the dynamics of DB fights forever. This is what happens when some of the best animators in Japan are working on the finale. But is Goku’s mastered Ultra Instinct the best moment in the history of Dragon Ball? Nah, Goku going Super Saiyan for the first time against Frieza & Gohan’s Super Saiyan 2 transformation against Cell were the biggest character payoffs. The last few episodes were literally a f*** you to the spoilers. 

Dragon Ball Super throughout its span of 3 years gave us many memorable moments while paying tribute to vintage DBZ fights that spawned the interests of old & new viewers alike. It retained the heart & soul of the original TV series. With Super ended, there is a void left in my heart. But no matter how many new series they make under the Dragon Ball name, nothing can match the iconic Dragon Ball Z, which still remains a cult classic!!!

Marvel has crowned its new King!!

In the time of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.

          – King T’Challa

From director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale station, Creed) comes Black Panther; first ever African superhero movie. Many are calling it not just a movie but a movement, a revolution. Marvel went off road for this one.

Black Panther starts right after the events of Captain America: Civil War. King T’Chaka is dead & its time for his son T’Challa to take over the throne. To the world Wakanda is a third world country but in reality their technology seems to be light years ahead. They have umpteen amount of vibranium- the strongest metal in the universe. 

The newly crowned King T’Challa takes a deep pride in his tradition. Chadwick Boseman adds a certain degree of flexibility to the character. He is served by Dora Milaje; an elite female warrior group, his sister Shuri who is a technical geek & his love interest Nakia. This movie has no time for damsels in distress! The King looks unbeatable in his new suit but nonetheless he receives a competition from a foe that he never saw coming- Eric Killmonger!

Director Ryan Coogler is careful at storytelling. Killmonger first appears as Klaue’s henchman but took everyone by surprise when he appeared in Wakanda to challenge T’Challa. Michael B. Jordan portrays the character with majestic ferocity. He is the outcast prince. He is here to reclaim the throne. He came here as a conqueror.  He is the consequence of the sin that the previous King T’Chaka has committed. He is the embodiment of the pain & anguish of every black Americans who are unable to trace their family roots. These ancestral gaps are a direct result of families being murdered & wiped out. Killmonger & T’Challa are shattered mirror image of each other. Killmonger’s trauma is something that T’Challa can’t grasp but both of them are fighting for the betterment of their own people. Killmonger is the hero of his own story- his people’s rage!!

 It was Killmonger’s ascension & death that opened T’Challa’s eyes to shed Wakanda’s disguise & be open to Africans all over the world. Black Panther wouldn’t have been a strong movie if it hadn’t tackled such issues. Despite all this family drama you still realise that you are in a Marvel movie thanks to mesmerizing action. Coogler brought something new to this superhero tale with his immersive storytelling while creating absorbing characters.

Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped the ship because they knew death was better than bondage.

               – Eric Killmonger

Christopher Nolan: An interstellar odyssey 

If you make yourself more than just a man…..if you devote yourself to an ideal…..then you become something else entirely…..a legend!

These are words in the trailer released by WB.

For modern cinephiles this man is a God. His first feature was a lesser known film, The Following but ever since he made his Hollywood debut with Memento, he made a clear statement- he is not here to he trifled with. Right from the start Christopher Nolan has barely missed a note. His consistency is astonishing. His distinctive touch is instantly recognizable. His ability to entertain & stimulate viewers senses has made him the most universally admired filmmaker. He is the master of non-linear narrative. His movies have one of the best screenplays & his ideas are unmatched for any other filmmaker. His seven films are set to release in 4K ultra HD format remastered in HDR by the director himself.

1. The Prestige

Batman meets Wolverine. The Prestige adapted from an award winning novel of the same name by Christopher Priest is a twisty tale filled with magical theatrics & inventive cinematic devices. Nolan not only made a movie about duelling magicians but also showed us how self-destructive obsessions are with a love story & a unique plot with sci-fi twist.

2. The Dark Knight trilogy

Nolan made the best superhero trilogy of all time. He transformed Batman into The Dark Knight legend. Batman Begins is an utterly amazing & riveting start to a brand new beginning. Its sequel The Dark Knight takes a giant leap transcending the genre but showcasing a philosophical battle between the blurried line of good & evil is as delicate as the line between life & death. The title of the movie not only refers to the Batman but also to the fallen hero Harvey Dent. The Joker’s actions are not motivated by greed, politics or fame. He just wanna watch the word burn. The legend ended with the The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight trilogy proves why Batman is still DC’s biggest asset.

3. Inception

Living within a dream within a dream. In some quarters of the world people are still talking about it. Inception follows one man’s harrowing journey from reality to dreamworld & back again. The strength of Inception does not lie in its strange complex framework but on how Nolan keeps a firm grim on his multi-layered narrative, yet brilliantly keeping the viewers engrossed in the plot. Inception finds a right blend between free-wheeling inaginations of dreams & precisely constructed puzzles. Its hard to follow up for a first time viewer. But things become quite clear after multiple viewing. Or did you just dream up the previous ones?

4. Interstellar

Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here. Interstellar is Nolan’s most ambitious project yet. We don’t know what travelling through a black hole looks like. Nolan created a multi-dimensional sci-fi epic crossing the boundaries of space & time with its universal tale of discovery during moments of complete uncertainty, adding a more human element to it. The result will blow the audience away. 

5. Dunkirk 

Dunkirk is a  wonderful cinematic experience of pure sound & fury, a grim portrait of impending death, military blunder & unpreparedness. What is unique about it is that we don’t see the enemy attacking. The dialogues are very less. You won’t feel any sympathy for the characters yet the movie works as Nolan creates suspense by mere screenplay, cinematography & music. Just like Memento & Inception, it follows a multi-layered narrative. In the end all the narratives converge together & the release is just sheer ecstasy. Christopher Nolan delivered the greatest war epic ever made, a movie that rivals its genre contemporary; Saving Private Ryan.

Even though Christopher Nolan hasn’t won any Oscar yet but with the kind of movies he makes, it will be hard to keep him out of the Academy Awards.